March 30, 2009

-image-randomness in review

1. I’m back.

2. I think. So I need to get things — perhaps old, stale things to you — off my chest.

3. Uhm, let’s see. Oh. Just so you know: Gay cabaret singer Adam Lambert will win this season of American Idol. But oh yawnnn. He bores me, pippa. In my opinion he’s too specifically gay and needs to tone down his fabulousness if he wants to reach a wider audience. I see him either continuing to work in cabarets and clubs or fronting a band a la Freddie Mercury. I don’t see him as a solo artist. He’s a specific kind of performer, to me. Over the top. Self-indulgent. Clearly, he’s the best singer in the bunch, but … bleeah. The audience seems to love him and I do think he’ll win, but then the audience loved Taylor Hicks, too, and just a couple of weeks ago Hicks couldn’t even succeed in giving away — literally — tickets to his concert. So winning AI is obviously no guarantee of huge success. Lambert always teeters on the edge of being too much for me. Too affected. In that homogenous AI venue … by himself … it doesn’t work for me. Elsewhere, I could see it. Oh, and lose the Liza Minnelli hairdo, hon. Gah. His hair is very discouraging to me. Although my opinion of his hair likely won’t keep him from winning. He’ll win if he can keep his self-indulgence and excesses in check. But, overall, I’m kind of bored with AI these days. I watch intermittently and don’t even know from week to week who gets voted off. Doesn’t hold my attention so much this time around. The outcome seems like a done deal to me.

4. On the other hand, I cannot get enough of America’s Next Top Model. I came to this show late — only started watching a couple of seasons ago. This may sound like a weird word to use, but I love the generosity of this show. Unlike American Idol, which is very guarded and limited about how the contestants are presented, Top Model allows you to see the girls at the house they share, having their cat fights, bitching to the camera, throwing up, you know, whatever model wannabe’s generally do. You get to see what goes into a photo shoot from the perspective of the shoot director, the photographer, the model. You learn what it actually takes to be a model and, guess what, it’s harder than people think. You hear the judges’ critiques to the models’ faces and then you hear their critiques behind their backs, my favorite part. Tyra and her fellow judges are brutal and catty and sometimes hilarious. And that’s what I mean by “generous.” Uhm, not that “brutal and catty and hilarious” equal “generous,” but that we’re given these various perspectives on the business and the process. It’s more dimensional than AI. We’re given more access. You know, American Idol, instead of adding a new strident judge, why not more behind-the-scenes moments? Why not more with the vocal coaching, how the songs are chosen, the ups and downs for the contestants? I imagine it’s because AI is very invested in these carefully calculated images of its potential moneymakers. The producer — Simon Fuller — has a vested interest in their successful careers; they sign contracts with his company. Top Model winners are given contracts with Elite Model Management, so I imagine the producer — Tyra — makes money not from the models’ careers, but from putting out the best show she can. No skin off her nose if the girls are catty bitches, which they frequently are. Just this week, a great moment, a stunning moment during judging. One of the girls, a real whiny self-doubter named Tahlia, kept expressing to anyone who would listen, “I suck. I’m not sure I should be here. Maybe I should go home. I think I wanna go home,” etc. The rest of the girls gathered together and agreed that if anyone else but Tahlia were sent home, they’d be pissed and maybe they should say something, you know? So the photo shoot — where they all posed as immigrants to Ellis Island — comes and goes and, magically, Tahlia’s shot was chosen the best of the week. It WAS amazing. She looked gorgeous. Not only was she not going home; she was TOPS for the week. So this week’s loser is selected and she’s about to hug Tyra goodbye and — oops, wait! — suddenly Celia, the oldest and most mature of the girls, steps up next to the loser and proceeds to throw Tahlia under the bus in front of everybody.

“Tyra, all week long she’s told everyone she doesn’t want to be here, so I don’t think sending someone else home is fair.”

Oh, Celia. Why? You’re one of the best in the house and now you just look petty. And, ohhh, pippa. Tyra ain’t havin’ none of it. Her huge eyes flash in anger.

“You know what I think is unfair, Celia? You saying this. That’s unfair. Tahlia has said nothing to me and nothing to the judges about this. We’ve made our decision. Take your place, Celia.”

Take your place, Celia.

Yeeowwwch. So beautiful and so dismissive.

Celia steps back into line, bows her head, and begins to cry.

Honestly, I cannot get enough of that crap right now.

5. Oh. Very important! A whispered conversation with MB in the pre-show semi-darkness of the theater where I ask him to see if he can pinpoint why I refuse to see the movie Milk.

“I know you know.”

“I do?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Okay.”

“Remember, this is me we’re talking about, so think something stupid, then make it even more stupid.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

“Uhh …. you won’t see Milk because it’s called Milk.”

“Thaaat’s right, Crackie! Milk. Meeelk. I mean, what movies have “milk” in their titles? Okay, well, that Milk Money movie with what’s-er-name, uhm … Melanie Griffith. But that’s IT. I mean, what? Lord of the Milk?

“Milk Wars”
?

“Milkin’ in the Rain”
?

“12 Milky Men”
?

“No Country for Old Milk”
?

“How Stella Got Her Milk Back”?

We were losing it already, rapidly becoming those people you become wary of as you sit in the movie theater, waiting for the previews — you know, those loud, chatty people you worry will JUST NOT SHUT UP once the movie starts, but we could not help it; our self-amusement knew no bounds. And, basically, with that last one from MB, I was lost. Gone. Shaking in hysterics in my seat, repeating “How Stella Got Her Milk Back, How Stella Got Her Milk Back” over and over. I’m laughing about it right now. (And I did manage to calm down before the movie started.)

How many other fabulous new movies could be created by just changing one word of an old movie to some variation on “milk”? The possibilities are endless. Come on, Hollywood. Step up. I’m giving you gold here.

5. Snippet from the boardroom firing on “Celebrity Apprentice.” I caught a portion of this show last night — oh, who know why? But, apparently, Dennis Rodman is on this version and he’s falling apart, ditching projects, drinking constantly, being a worthless wanker. He seemed completely out of control to me last night and, yes, he does seem drunk most of the time. So the boardroom turns into this impromptu intervention. Hahaha, awesome. SO glad I saw this, because Jesse James, Sandra Bullock’s husband and custom motorcycle entrepreneur, flat out says, “Dennis basically has a drinking problem.” All the other celebs are sitting there — Joan and Melissa Rivers, Herschel Walker, Clint Black, etc., and they agree. They agree it’s bad and sad and Dennis just sits there with his sunglasses and his tats and his piercings looking like a douche. Jesse James, more articulate and savvy than I thought he’d be, continues to BRING IT, but he’s kind about it, empathizes with Rodman, “I used to have a problem, too.” He tells Rodman, “I’ve seen when we’re out on the street working a project together how people’s faces light UP when they see Dennis Rodman, and then when they approach you and try to talk to you, I’ve seen their faces fall with the disappointment of what you’re really like, man. It’s sad. We all like you and know there’s a good guy in there, but you have a problem.”

Others chime in with similar stories because Jesse James had the balls to open the door. Good for him. I mean, Brian McKnight had to tie Rodman’s tie for him, for God’s sake! He’s a mess.

Rodman tries to defend himself. “Phil Jackson said I was the best player he ever coached.”

Trump says, “Better than Michael Jordan?”

“Better than Jordan. Better than anyone. I won five championships. I never gave no one no trouble.”

Football great Herschel Walker chimes in. “But that was the past. We’re talking about the present, Dennis. What are you doing now?”

Ow. But maybe necessary coming from a fellow sports great. Oh, and also? Herschel Walker suffers from dissociative identity disorder, formerly called MPD — I Googled him — but all his team members on “Celebrity Apprentice” talk about what a rock he is, how solid he is. He seems that way. Plus, he’s yummy. Yummy scrummy.

Jesse James again. “All I wanna say is I’m sitting between two sports legends. Notice the difference.”

“You’re saying there’s a huge difference between Dennis and Herschel?” says Trump.

“Yes, sir,” say James.

Rodman interjects. “Outside of this boardroom, I can kick anybody’s ass at ANYTHING!”

“Well, then why don’t you kick our asses at being a good person?” says James.

Pippa, seriously. That has to be the best line on a “reality” show ever. Really, the best line I’ve heard in a long time in any venue: Why don’t you kick our asses at being a good person? Funny and poignant and TRUE. Jesse James is now my hero. Rodman really is messed up. Of course, he was fired, but everybody tried to hug him, wish him well, offer help, etc. It was actually really touching. I hope he got it, but I don’t think he did.

Now, go out and kick ass at being a good person, okay?

March 28, 2009

-image-the sweetest thing

So so cute. (I think the “E” is my favorite.) And I’m not just randomly declaring alphabet favorites, pippa, I swear. Click on the link so you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Entirely too smushable.

March 24, 2009

-image-technical difficulties

Hello, pippa! I’m having some technical issues and will be without a computer for a couple of days here.

ACK! Can we all lay cyber hands on my computer and say “BE HEALED!!”?

I will either see you in a few days or, uhm …. never again. But let’s go with the former, okay?

Fingers crossed. Prayers said.

See you soon.

March 23, 2009

-image-at the bookstore, episode 8

Little boy, about 3 or 4 years old, sitting with his dad, continuously asking about his “coffee” — when can I get my coffee, how big will my coffee be, are you getting coffee too, Daddy, etc. Finally, he gets his “coffee,” and calms down enough to announce, “You don’t talk to strangers, Daddy.”

Dad agrees. “That’s right.”

“And you don’t talk to ladies, either.”

Dad sips his coffee in silence.

March 21, 2009

-image-a list of words and phrases that make my eyes glaze over, vol. 1

If your conversation with me is regularly peppered with these — and used without irony, without tongue in cheek — we basically won’t be friends.

Occasional uses, however, will be forgiven. Context is key.

~ harmony

~ balance

~ empowerment

~ powerful

~ dynamic

~ “my truth”

~ “gifted” as in “My friend gifted me this lovely handmade sweater.” You mean she gave you a lovely handmade sweater? Shut up.

~ “blissed out” — blissed out people need to stay THE HELL away from me.

~ “healing”

~ goddess

~ diva

~ “own” as in “You need to own your full potential.” No, I prefer to rent mine, thank you.

~ destiny

~ “a-ha moment”

~ sisterhood

~ “it’s all good” — no, it’s not. I repeat: Shut up.

~ birth/-ed/-ing — as in “What do you want to birth in your life?”

~ “inner voice”

Stay tuned for future volumes of “A List of Words and Phrases That Make My Eyes Glaze Over.”

-image-at the bookstore, episode 7

A snippet — without editorial comment, although it’s tempting.

A bride-to-be with her groom-to-be meeting with a florist a few tables away. The bride wears giant hoop earrings — Tyra Banks would tell her she “needs to lose those.” The groom ogles me and basically every woman that walks past him.

FLORIST: Give me three words to describe your wedding.

(silence)

GROOM: Well, fun …. and ….. well …

(longer silence)

FLORIST: Okay. That’s good. What’s the size of the bridal party?

BRIDE: Twelve.

FLORIST: Okay.

GROOM: Seven guys and five girls.

FLORIST: Do you have a theme?

BRIDE: (sadly) No.

FLORIST: Oh. Hm. Okay.

BRIDE: But the girls are in red so they should have white flowers and I’m in white so I should have red flowers.

FLORIST: Okay. Any flowers you particularly like?

BRIDE: Noo … I dunno ….. I’m open …

FLORIST: Okay. Why don’t you look through this book of samples then?

(they do so — several moments pass)

BRIDE: Do lilies come in any other color besides white?

FLORIST: (eyes wide) Uh, yes.

(another long pause of perusal)

GROOM: The guys are all wearing red vests.

FLORIST: Oh. Okay.

About 20 minutes later, the couple walk to their car, far apart, not holding hands, not touching.

March 20, 2009

-image-what i’m not used to

Our new condo, a rental now, requires certain mental adjustments that I am so far not making. There are just things I’m struggling to get used to — like the following, for starters:

1) The way the toilets flush as if they’re going to overflow but then miraculously manage to choke it down at the last second. Doesn’t seem to matter what “it” is. I now have generalized anxiety about toilet flushing. The toilets are not willingly doing their job, like little kids forced to eat lima beans. So then I feel bad for the toilet. I feel bad for a toilet, pippa.

2) The kitchen. I don’t like our kitchen. Move on.

3) The light that shines in our bedroom from the porch lights of the building next door. I like a very dark room for sleeping.

4) The need for a sleep mask.

5) The way said sleep mask never stays on my head. It ends up atop my head, on the pillow, on the floor. Again, like the toilets, another disappointing slacker.

6) The way a tighter sleep mask cut off my facial circulation leaving my next-morning face with grooves and slashes and bizarre puffiness. I gasped when I saw my face in the mirror. I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

7) The sound of the little girl who plays in the yard next door and screams a high unhuman scream every afternoon at 5:23.

8) The one portion of wall in our living room that seems to be very thin, as if the builders forgot a layer.

9) Because of that, the sound of the single 30-something dude and his little turtle dove having gasping thumping sex in his living room.

10) Please have sex somewhere ELSE, dude. I’m uncomfortable knowing precisely how long you last. Also, I know the layout of your unit — we looked at that unit — and you have a back bedroom that doesn’t share a wall with anyone. Hello, gasping thumping love lair.

March 18, 2009

-image-r.i.p. natasha richardson

I’m stunned. Stunned. Natasha Richardson, Tony Award winning actress, daughter of Vanessa Redgrave, and wife of Liam Neeson, has died from a freak fall on a beginner’s ski slope in Quebec, Canada. I don’t even know what to say; it just seems so implausible. How could this happen?? It’s so terribly sad.

My condolences to Liam Neeson and the entire family.

Perhaps better known and appreciated for her theatrical work, still, she was a luminous actress. I will miss her.

outtakes_00144.jpg

-image-if this doesn’t get you dancing …

…. there’s not much hope for you, peaches.

I love this song by gospel sister-duo Mary, Mary. A real pick-me-up. (Not crazy at all about the video — there’s some surprisingly bad dancing — but close your eyes, listen to the song, and move your feet for da Lord, pippa. C’mon.)

Makes me wanna find a church full of worshippin’ black people right now!

-image-excerpt: “in the frame” by helen mirren

I found In the Frame, Helen Mirren’s autobiography, at the bookstore recently and fell in love with it. It’s really more of a scrapbook of her life, great photos, juicy anecdotes, little scribblings alongside the old photos, all giving the sense that you’re just sitting with Dame Helen on her cozy couch as she turns the pages and walks you through her singular life. It’s lovely, so personal and inviting. In all honesty, I read the book in one sitting at the bookstore — for shame! — and wrote the following anecdote down on a scrap piece of paper.

(BUT! I always buy a least a coffee at the bookstore and I always clean up after myself and I’m writing all this so Kate P doesn’t get mad at me because, basically, I need constant approval. At every turn. All the time. Ad nauseum. To infinity and beyond.)

Proceeding apace.

This short excerpt is actually a little piece written by Mirren’s father, Basil Mirren, about his cat. (Speaking of anthropomorphizing.) Note the detail here — how much he reads into his pet’s personality — as anyone with a pet always does. It’s just human nature to do that. But this is charming to me. He seems to just revel in the separateness and the otherness of his beloved cat. I’ve read this several times and never find it anything less than delightful. I love the unselfconscious, almost childlike, insights.

My cat’s name is Flossie. I call her all sorts of other things at times, but Flossie suits her soft fluffiness. You couldn’t draw her with clear lines, her outline is too hazy, like a leafy tree, but she is full of strong flowing shapes from her pink ears to her ankle-length Victorian drawers. She is a golden-eyed long-haired white Persian Queen.

Flossie is an out-of-work or, rather, a retired actress who last appeared on TV with Sir Laurence Olivier in a new Pinter play. She worked well, but modestly, and didn’t upstage Larry. The play was a success and got an EMI award. But the lights, noise, bustle, and general backstage confusion put a severe strain on her sense and sensibility. Sanctuary in suburbia seem better for her than occasional caresses by the famous and she was fostered by us.

Away from the stage she still has a whiff of theatre about her. She understands ordinary Green Room talk like “There’s my darling pearly whirly girlie” or “Piss off” and responds correctly, her timing always absolutely right. She can show her feelings in every movement from her head to her drawers. But always a Lady — dignified, controlled, and fussy.

Our communication is mostly telepathic. I can recognize a range of body signals that give a lot of information. She can, for example, say, “Thank you for my dinner” by rubbing her head against my arm as I put the plate down or “I don’t like your cooking” by shaking her hind leg at it. But beyond that sort of thing, something in me can sometimes be in tune with something in her, the same strings vibrate, and there is an exchange of sympathy rather than information.

She has a lovely character, gentle but brave, loving but independent; since her operation no longer tortured by the lunacies of sex.

Flossie is also lazy, has fleas, and catches pigeons. But that is how she was made. She’s unpolluted by knowledge, thank God.

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